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Lawmaker says ‘aggressive’ action needed to combat use of AI, deepfakes in MN elections

Secretary of State Steve Simon testifies before the House Elections Finance and Policy Committee Feb. 21 in support of a bill sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson, right, that would modify the law against using deepfake technology. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)

Before last month’s New Hampshire presidential primary, a robocall was made purportedly from President Joe Biden telling voters they need not participate, saying, “It’s important that you save your vote for the November election.”

To reduce the spread of misinformation that could threaten the electoral process, Minnesota was a nation leader in enacting a law last year to criminalize the use of deepfakes to influence an election.

“But since that legislation was passed the need to be aggressive in combatting deepfakes has been illustrated pretty dramatically in our presidential election,” said Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids). “Deepfakes are here, people are doing them, and we need to be very real about how we address them.”

Stephenson sponsors HF3625, a bill that aims to provide updates. As amended, it was approved Wednesday by the House Elections Finance and Policy Committee on a split voice-vote and sent to the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee.

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